The Art of Letter Writing

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My kids have been exchanging letters with other children in the upper grades. It’s nice to see how letter writing still has that charm that instant messaging doesn’t always have–the absolute need for patience and consequently excitement brought by the mystery of not knowing who you are corresponding with and not knowing when a letter will be coming.

Speaking of letters, I wish I could write my kids one.

Dear (most-of-the-time) adorable kids,

Thank you so much for cheering up T. JM everyday. Thank you for your jokes, mishaps, clumsiness, eureka moments and all the other moments that involve boogers, tears, and whatnot.

You probably don’t see it but T. JM is not ok yet. I’m getting there though so don’t worry because you kids help every single day. Just like what we talk about in our stories, poems, songs and books, we get hurt and scared sometimes even if we don’t want to. Soon enough we will realize that it’s okay to get hurt and scared because these only make us human. And that anyway, people who truly love us will always be there ready to catapult us over and beyond our pains and fears.

So, dear kids, keep playing and smiling. For your family is here to keep you safe and warm. Plus, you have me to share humor with when your pokemon dies, when your dorky diaries book gets lost, when your tooth starts to move, when you want to poop, when you scrape your knee, when a classmate teases you because that classmate likes you and you don’t understand why.

I’ll be here for you because I know what it feels to be scared and hurt.

With warmth and love,
T. JM

Life Check of a Teacher

I want to say Life hasn’t been good to me these days, but I think that would be unfair.

Last summer, I got a fellowship at a writing workshop in Bacolod. This semester, I flew to Cebu twice to facilitate and give a plenary talk in a seminar-training for public school teachers. Last month I visited Biliran to administer a test. This month a chance to write a textbook was opened. Just yesterday, I started writing test items for an educational company.

So I believe it’s unfair to say that life has been unfair.

Yet I can’t help but think that Life hasn’t been too good to me either. A month ago my boyfriend of three years broke up with me for reasons I think were unfair. In addition, work has been very loaded that my performance in MA has been substandard–in fact, for the first time in my life, a professor told me to “please study.” Right now, just as I am trying to pull myself together,  I got sick and had to ditch an event I have been working on for the past weeks and which my department had entrusted to me. Now, I’m lagging even more in my MA work. To top it all, I have been hurting and crying for the past month.

Quite unfair, really. Pathetic, mostly. When things fall apart,they seem to really fall apart, don’t they?

There’s no time to lose, however. I know no one’s rushing me to be ok and that I am entitled to whatever pain I am feeling, yet somehow I know I have to move on and face life just like how I have been facing it for the past twenty-four years; for life really doesn’t care how things are great or crappy. On the contrary, it’s quite indifferent. Sometimes, it is even conceited. As John Greene puts it in The Fault in Our Stars

“I believe the universe wants to be noticed. I think the universe is improbably biased toward the consciousness, that it rewards intelligence in part because the universe enjoys its elegance being observed. And who am I, living in the middle of history, to tell the universe that it-or my observation of it-is temporary?”

So there. Life is life. No need to overthink it. I have to keep on living and focus on things that I can personally affect even when all the other things seem crappy. I’ll be doing that. I am starting.

When I Grow Up Day

When I Grow Up Day

For now, I’m just thankful that I still have the best clients in the infinite universe–and I am noticing you, universe, as I write this.

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High School Teachers

High School Teachers

One of the things I have been busy with this academic year: my Senior high school students in their NSTP class where they share stories to second and third graders. Teacher Bam and I bring our almost-adult-kids kids to two public elementary schools every Monday to inspire in younger kids the love for and of reading. The thought that I am able to build memories of this sort in my high school students’ hearts and minds makes me grin and smile in a sly way. Well, knowing what being a teenager is all about, the plan is to inspire them to help bring change in our country; but actually the greater plan is simpler: to care for, think of, and spend time with people other than themselves. For now, I think that is more than enough.

I’m making change after all.

On Being a Dad and a Teacher

I haven’t blogged since Nov of 2012. My mind is full of thoughts about life and where I am right now. I am about to end my third year of teaching and at the moment I am starting to think of other things I can do or other places I can be. Top of my head: do I really want to be a teacher?

Teaching sucks you into this limbo where you find your self asking, is teaching for me? For one, I cannot complain about my salary as mine is one of the highest-paying schools for an early grades teacher. The work does however make sure that that pay  is worth their pockets, thus I have meetings until nine, work I have to bring home, and  a class that I’m not even sure is paid.

Yes, money matters to me. Probably not as much as it matters to the bourgeois, but it does. You see, I have been, and probably will be teaching children most of my life. I want to for I find peace in being with them.But right now, it’s like I’m working the moment I wake up til the moment I sleep. It gets tiring sometimes. With this, it’s like I work and work and work to earn. Money isn’t working for me.

So what if it isn’t working? Well, it is my dream to start my own family (I proudly think I have what it takes to be a good dad) so I have to be financially stable to do that, and as society isn’t really accepting of people like me who are outside the norm–no laws to protect me, no marriages, etc., I have to work harder for I might have to do it on my own. Then again, who knows? 

So yes. Money matters to me because I will take more responsibilities when I become a father. I will be living for other people and I have to prepare for that. Right now, I don’t have the financial stability and by the time I become a father, I might have been already burnt out by teaching.

I love teaching, but how do I not burn out and earn more? three-robbersHere’s Tomi Ungerer’s The Three Robbers where they became fathers to many children 🙂

Forced Shirt

Less than three week before Christmas break, I found myself buying a shirt from a rather convincing salesman. He gave me a brochure and told me

Here are the products I’m selling, you have to buy and I bet you’ll pick the black diamond soap and the black shirt”

I had to buy. I wasn’t given a choice. Amazed by his style of selling and wondering why he was so sure of what I was going to buy, I said I’ll check it out and tell him the next day. That night after going through the brochure, I grinned as my curiosity was satisfied in a funny way.

The reason the salesman was absolutely sure of what I was going to buy was because  those two items were almost the only items for men.

Amazingly sly and witty for an eight-year old entrepreneur.

Lunch Rants

Crunch time.

Even if I am tempted to list all the things I have been doing since I took certain roles in our department and in the school, I’d rather not.

You see, I have been talking about these roles to myself and my friends a little too often.

  • “I’m stressed”
  • “I’m tired”
  • “This is too much”
  • “Why me?”

The words just keep on coming. What I thought were friendly conversations turned little by little into lunch rants.

Ranting isn’t necessarily evil, in fact sometimes it does help relieve stress. However, everyone has his or her own thoughts and issues. Ranting all the time to your friends is like putting your rants and theirs in a ring and have them wrestle.

Why am I thinking about these things?  Well because my responsibilities have never amounted to this much. I am frantic, nervous and scared that I have been ranting to everyone.

So, I’m going to stop right now (as two cute kids are tapping my table as they enjoy the live music right beside where I’m sitting anyway and my laptop’s moving like crazy. *giggles*).

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Because I’ve been given a lot,  and I’d like to believe it means something. I brush it off my stout shoulders and start making the most out of it. I love teaching so I have to love the non-teaching aspect of teaching too!

Sabi na nga ba mali sila noong sinabi nilang walang matutulong ang computer games, kasi ang feeling ko ngayon para lang silang side quests sa Diablo o Pokemon kung saan marami akong makukuhang EXP points o di kaya tataas ang chance na makakuha ako ng mga rare weapons. 

The Teacher in His Hospital Bed

My platelet count is going down, I am not yet done with grades

My appetite has gone berserk, I am sure I’ve lost some weight

My sore throat has been stabbed a lot, I can’t swallow, I can’t sing

My skin is now a mestizo’s, red blotches, pink freckles

I am now officially hot, 39 degrees give, take

But all I want to do right now,
is to start getting well fast

I miss my bed, I miss my books,
I miss everything I own

My health, friends,family,students, to everyone my heart belongs.